Polity, Politics and people’s Duty (by Shiva Kant Jha)
The edicts on the walls of our Parliament underscore the sanctity and nobility of the society’s political pursuits compendiously called ‘politics’. Krishna was Himself a great politician whose politics illustrate the best in politics. Acharya Chanakya stressed on the egalitarian objectives in the art of managing public affairs. Aacharya Kautilya said in his Arthasastra:
प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम
नात्मप्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम
( ” In the happiness of the subjects lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare; what pleases himself the king shall not consider good but whatever pleases his subjects the king shall consider good.” from Message )
‘Politics’ becomes dirty when we play dirty games. Under our Indian tradition, ‘politics’ is the Rajdharma that casts non-negotiable and non-shifting Duties on the members of a democratic society to work for the weal of all by complying with the demands of Rajdharma. In the ‘Shantiparva’ (Chap. 66 ) of the Mahabharata, the great Bhishma tells Raja Yudhisthira what makes a king’s duties so great and good: I render his ideas from Sanskrit into English –
“ The King gets hundred times of the dharma than what others get by following Ashram Dharma merely by protecting the people under the governmental care.” [rendered into English]
If the ‘politicians’ of these days are feared and looked down upon, it is because our people have been constrained to judge them that way. They have been weighed, and found wanting. But we hope that better days are ahead.